Managing COTS packages customization

posted 12.22.2016

Develop mechanisms for managing COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) customization level both during implementation and after. These mechanisms should ensure IT KPIs and benefits (i.e. generally commercial packages are bought to avoid significant development - or in other words: commercial package should support majority of requirements out-of-the-box so there should not be a need for significant developent) and should take into account strategic diversity of required customization levels in different areas of the company.

Why

There are efficiency goals regarding information technologies. To fulfill these goals it is necessary to standardize IT solutions which means that it is necessary to use COTS solutions with minimum level of customization (the cost of future upgrades can be a good estimator of the permitted level of customization).

We should not assume, however, that "one size fits all". Therefore, it is necessary to identify the components of the IT architecture, which should be standardized, because they do not directly build the competitive advantage of company as well as those components of the IT architecture, which should be customized, and even those that do not should be standardized at all, as the company differentiates on the market thanks to them or builds the competitive advantage.

Then, to maintain good health of the IT environment for many years (in order to sustain project effects for at least the period recorded in business case), it is necessary to protect standardized systems against excessive customization in the future. Without that, after some time, standardized systems will become over-customized and the company will be forced to start refactoring or even decomissioning / replacement project.

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